Understanding Subrogation in California Auto Accidents

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Subrogation is a legal process that allows your auto insurance company to financially support you following an auto accident and later pursue reimbursement from the at-fault party.

When you suffer an injury in a car accident, you’ll likely face costly medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses that can lead to additional stress. Especially during these economically uncertain times, it’s understandable that you will want compensation as soon as possible so that you can pay these costs and get your life back on track. In California, your auto insurance company may step in and help you pay your medical bills for the injuries you received during the car accident. However, once it’s been established that the other driver was at fault for causing the accident, Califronia’s subrogation law allows your insurance company to pursue and obtain reimbursement from the at-fault party. Let’s take a closer look at the subrogation process in California and how it may impact you after your auto accident.

Receiving Compensation From Your Auto Insurance Carrier

After a car accident, it may take some time to determine which driver was responsible for the incident. Meanwhile, you may be facing significant costs resulting from the accident, such as medical bills, damage to your vehicle or other property, and more. In order to help you cover these mounting costs, your auto insurance company can pay out benefits and wait until a later date to initiate subrogation proceedings. Once more information is available about the accident, your insurance company can take legal action against the at-fault party to receive repayment for the compensation they paid to you.

The Made Whole Doctrine

After a settlement or jury verdict is reached, you and your attorney should discuss your right to use the settlement to cover your lost wages and other damages you suffered as a result of the accident. Under California’s Made Whole Doctrine, you have the legal right to use the compensation to cover your own expenses before the auto insurance company may pursue a subrogation claim. Essentially, this doctrine is designed to protect individuals from car insurance companies who may try to claim the entirety of the settlement for themselves.

The Subrogation Process

If it’s determined that the other driver was responsible for causing the accident, your car insurance company can initiate the subrogation process in order to receive repayment from the responsible party. Under state law, your insurer must notify you of their intention to enter into subrogation. While this process rarely involves you directly, your attorney can work with you to limit how much compensation your auto insurer can obtain from the total settlement. Your attorney will likely examine the subrogation clause in your insurance policy and help you understand your best path forward.


For more information about the subrogation process in the Temecula or Murrieta area, contact the dedicated and experienced attorneys at Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation today by calling (951) 489-3320.

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